No snow needed as ice climbers flock to Ouray this weekend | KOB 4

No snow needed as ice climbers flock to Ouray this weekend

Meg Hilling
January 20, 2018 02:48 PM

OURAY, Colo. – Forget the snow, and the concerns surrounding the lack of it. How about some ice instead?


With strapped-on spiked shoes and laced up in harnesses, some are taking to frozen waterfalls instead of praying for snow on the slopes of Ouray. The sport? Ice climbing.

"It's the challenge of, 'I probably can't do it.' And then your buddies are down below saying, 'You can do it.’ You can do it.' And then you do and then you get done and it is a great sense of accomplishment," climber Greg Barrows said.

Regardless of whether there's snow on the ground or not, every winter ice climbers from all over the world descend upon Colorado's Ouray Ice Park. Similar to other winter sports, it's broken into sections based on experience and difficulty level.

But it's an especially popular destination this weekend as the annual Ice Festival gets underway.

Part of what makes the park so unique is that most of the frozen waterfalls here are man-made. All the water is brought in via pipes, and once the temperatures drop the falls freeze over – creating the perfect conditions for ice climbing.

It might sound difficult, but it turns out anyone can pick up the sport. That much was evident on Friday.

"Starting the kids young," said climber Cri Boratenski. "Caden started when he was about 5 and Emmett is 3."

Even though the park doesn't need snow, it's also feeling the heat this winter.

"The climate change is affecting us, too. I mean, most of this end of the park is not open because it has been too warm," said park engineer Rob Savoye.



Meg Hilling

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